A breakthrough can make you feel so very elated!

After twenty years of wondering how all the scraps of information I have about my Biltz ancestors fit together, I’ve finally hit pay dirt!

My Franz Julius Biltz (1825-1908) was my great great great grandfather. He was born in Mittelfrohna in Saxony, Germany and emigrated to Missouri in 1839 with his older half-sister Louise Völker, who had joined the “Saxon Emigration” that formed the beginnings of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Franz became a pastor, and died in 1908 in Concordia, Missouri.

He led a very exciting and sometimes dangerous life. He had severed ties with his German family when he sneaked out of Germany at the age of 12. Years later he sought to reestablish ties to his German kin and this correspondence is still in existence. The letters name names and places but unfortunately do not go into great detail about how the various names mentioned are actually related. After all, both the writer of the letters and their recipients knew who everybody was.

Over the last few months I have been trying to make sense of all the tantalizing bits of information I have gathered. A few weeks ago I decided to try to get in touch with the archives for the region around Mittelfrohna. After many agonizing weeks of silence I finally got a response from the archivist. He put me in touch with a genealogist who lives very close to Mittelfrohna and who happens to be familiar with the family.

This genealogist wrote me by e-mail last weekend and you can imagine how thrilled I was when she confirmed some of the relationships I had deduced. But the greatest thrill was to see the name of Franz Julius’ father and mother, correctly identified as the father’s second wife. These were definitely the people I was looking for.

The genealogist provided me with a good amount of new information that I can already add to my database, including the name of Franz Julius’ grandfather and names of uncles and aunts that I had previously not known about. She offered to go look at the church books and other records for me for a small fee. You can bet that I’m going to take her up on this offer!

I still have to process the information she’s already sent me, and I will have to do the same with the results of the research she will be doing for me. I will be sharing the information I find out as soon as it’s all in. Aside from the members of the Martin L. Wyneken family like me – the little girl Franz Julius is holding in the photograph above grew up to be Mrs. Martin L. Wyneken I – there are a number of other Biltz descendants that I have been in touch with throughout the years. I will definitely get in touch with them with the new information.

Another little “family reunion” in Freiburg

Fifteen years ago when my family was vacationing in a town on Lake Constance I drove our three children one evening half an hour or so farther eastward along the lake to visit a distant relative who lived there. We had a pleasant evening and a nice meal there and did a lot of chatting about how we were related to each other and so on. She was then, and continues to be today, interested in the family history, an interest she inherited from her father, Hans-Rolf. Years before I had corresponded with Hans-Rolf and even once talked to him on the phone. I am still very grateful to him for the information he provided me about his immediate family and his direct ancestors.

When a while back I started meeting semi-regularly with Wyneken relatives who live nearby, I immediately got in touch with Constanze to ask if she would be interested in joining us sometime. The interest was definitely there but she told me that circumstances would not allow her to make the trip for a while.

Well, the circumstances have changed and she got in touch with me recently to tell me that her mother, Waltraut, would be visiting her and that they would be interested in paying a visit to Freiburg to see the town and get together with me. The day they came was very hot but that didn’t keep us from enjoying each other’s company and chatting about numerous topics, including of course family, relatives and family history.

When I had to leave to get back to work, Constanze said she would be glad to come back to Freiburg again sometime for one of the regional Wyneken relative lunches.

Family trees in scroll form

I was very lucky that my daughter, Niki, had been visiting us for the past few months. That means she was here when the two huge trees arrived in the mail. … Boy, was I lucky!

When the trees arrived I took one look at them and said those are not very practical the way they are. When completely unrolled, they sprawl over the floor from the front to the back of the apartment. Not very easy to work with.

Knowing that Niki, as opposed to me, is practically inclined I asked her whether she would be interested in trying to set up the trees in scroll form. She gave me a noncommittal “uh-huh”, so I took heart and went online to look for a description of how to do what I was thinking of. I found several and they really didn’t look very complicated. At least for someone like Niki. I showed them to her and she started to show a little more interest. We went downtown together to look for the right materials to use for the project. We finally decided just to buy wooden curtain rods. I searched the Internet for heavy paper to attach the trees to the rods and for appropriate glue, all non-acidic so as help preserve the paper of the tree as long as possible.

Then one day Niki just sat down at the dinner table, pulled out all the materials, measuring implements and other tools, and got down to work. It was marvelous for me to watch her creative concentration. I left her alone and she called me back when she was done. I was so pleased!

A week or so later she did the second tree. Not only that, but she also created a bag to store the two scrolls when they’re not being used. You can see her at the top of this page holding everything in her arms.

Unfortunately she is no longer visiting us here in Germany because she had to fly back to the US. However, if anyone who has ordered a set of trees thinks that their trees might profit from being rolled up in scrolls like this, they might consider getting in touch with Niki to see if she would be interested in doing it for them. I asked her if she would consider it and she said sure she might, if you are willing to pay her flight to come out and visit you and give her food and board while she’s there. … So if you are really interested, just ask! Who knows, she might actually be willing to do it.

Wyneken family tree project coming to an end

I am overwhelmed by the response I have gotten to my offer of printing out the three updated Wyneken family trees!

All in all I have received orders to be delivered to 35 different addresses. Most of the orders are for complete sets of all three trees. Everybody ordered the overview as I had suggested. Five people decided to order, in addition to the overview, only the tree for their own branch. Five people even ordered two or three sets. All in all 125 trees will be printed.

A number of orders have already been processed, printed and delivered. I hope all the rest of the trees will have reached their final destinations either next week, or the week after at the latest.
The trees are very large, as can be seen in the following pictures.



The huge Bederkesa tree

Rüstje and overview

Me holding the early Wynekens tree. The Rüstje tree is lying on the floor

Invitation to lunch in Spain in October 2019 (picture *not* from La Montoliva)

Here is a message from Wyneken descendant Eduard Cabré in Spain.

Good Morning family,

This is to inform you about the next great meeting of our Punyed family. Let’s meet for lunch on the 6th of October 2019 in La Montoliva restaurant, next to La Selva del Camp in Tarragona, Spain.

The whole family is invited, Wyneken family included. Please confirm your attendance by e-mail to me.  I think this is a great opportunity to meet together. Hope to see you all very soon!

Eduard Cabré.

Eduard’s grandmother is Maria Antonia Punyed Wyneken, the oldest child on this page of my on-line tree, and her mother’s maiden name was Wyneken. That’s the Wyneken connection to this invitation.

The restaurant’s web site is very inviting and it gets four out of five stars at Tripadvisor – but you do need to know Spanish for most of the ratings.

I think this is a great idea and I would like to call out a big thanks to Eduard, who visited me in Freiburg in 2014. I think it would be really great if some of us non-Spanish Wynekens were able to make it.


Ordering for the family trees ends tomorrow

I’m thrilled to report that I’ve been getting lots of orders for the trees!

Twenty six relatives from all over the world have ordered a total of 96 charts. This is roughly equivalent to 32 complete sets of all three trees. I say “roughly” because a few of the people who ordered have only ordered the two trees that pertain to themselves.

I will be accepting more orders through the end of tomorrow, February 15, so if you would like your own copies of the trees please get to me soon.

I will try to send everyone an overview of what they ordered on the weekend along with the final price. I will ask for confirmation and include information on how to pay. Then when I have received all the payments I will place the order at the printing company.

Thank you everyone who has ordered!

Pedigrí actualizado – Precios y Pedido

El último árbol genealógico completo de la familia Wyneken fue compilado alrededor de 1877 / 1878. Desde entonces y dado el tiempo transcurrido, han cambiado muchas cosas en las diferentes ramas de la familia en Alemania, Estados Unidos, España, Chile, Inglaterra y Rusia. Por ello, he creado una versión actualizada e impresa (en inglés) que me gustaría distribuir entre miembros de la familia que estén interesados contra un pequeño aporte monetario.

Debido a que los datos de la familia y su historia ha aumentado tanto, he tenido que dividir el árbol en tres imágenes separadas:

  • Principios y visión general – ca. 80 x 30 cm
  • Rama de Bederkesa (Alemania, Rusia, EE.UU.) – aprox. 80 x 610 cm
  • Rama de Rüstje (EE.UU., Inglaterra, Alemania, España, Chile) – aprox. 100 x 278 cm

Los avances están disponibles en https://wyneken.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/last-tree-complete/.

!!! Pero por favor visite https://wyneken.wordpress.com/2019/01/20/please-be-aware-of-this-important-information para una advertencia en mi blog acerca de no poder incluir a todos los descendientes.

Estas representaciones del árbol se pueden pedir en tres calidades de papel fotográfico:

  • Normal (equivalente a una impresión de buena calidad)
  • Pesado estándar (recomendado por defecto, tipo cartulina delgada)
  • Calidad óptima o superpesado (con grosor tipo cartulina gruesa)

La calidad de los papeles y de la tinta empleados son tales que intentan asegurar la preservación de las representaciones durante muchos años y décadas.

Los precios para el conjunto de los árboles en las 3 calidades son los siguientes:

Normal: 111.75 USD / aprox. 97.63 EUR
Pesado estándar: 150.86 USD / aprox. 131.80 EUR
Superpesado: 195.56 USD / aprox. 170.86 EUR

También habrá que añadir el coste de los gastos de envío.

Finalmente propongo que para “retribuir” este trabajo, todos los interesados compartan el pago de un set de imágenes impreso en calidad superpesada, que pueda adjuntar a todos los antecedentes propios impresos que he levantado a lo largo de los años. Por ello, el costo se distribuiría uniformemente entre todos los “usuarios”, por lo que a mayor número de involucrados el costo per cápita será menor para este set adicional.

Este conjunto de árboles genealógicos refleja la historia de tu familia, tu ubicación en ellos y tus grados de parentesco con los miembros de la familia Wyneken a lo largo de los siglos.

Por favor, hágamelo saber por correo electrónico – mawyn@gmx.de – antes del 15 de febrero si desea ordenar un juego de estos árboles.

Antes de enviar el pedido a la imprenta le enviaré el precio exacto y le haré saber cómo transferirme el dinero.

Por favor, también pase esta información a todos sus parientes Wyneken que pudieran estar interesados. Me gustaría que estos árboles genealógicos se distribuyeran lo más ampliamente posible en toda la familia para que, si alguien decide hacer la próxima versión del árbol en 140 años más, pueda encontrar fácilmente una copia de lo que estoy produciendo ahora.

Aktualisierter Stammbaum – Preise und Bestellung

Der letzte vollständige Stammbaum der Familie Wyneken wurde um ca. 1877 / 1878 erstellt. Seitdem hat sich bei den verschiedenen Zweigen der Familie in Deutschland, den USA, Spanien, Chile, England und Russland sehr viel getan. Ich habe jetzt eine aktualisierte Version des Stammbaums erstellt (auf Englisch). Bis Dato liegen mir 8 Bestellungen dafür vor, und ich suche nach weiteren Familienmitgliedern, die am Erwerb einer eigenen Kopie interessiert sind.

Da die Familie durch die Generationen sehr zahlreich geworden ist, musste ich sie in 3 getrennten Stammbäume aufteilen:

  • Anfänge und Übersicht – ca. 80 x 30 cm
  • Bederkesa-Zweig (Deutschland, Russland, USA) – ca. 80 x 610 cm
  • Rüstje-Zweig (USA, England, Deutschland, Spanien, Chile) – ca. 100 x 278 cm

Kleine Versionen der Bäume findest du in einem früheren Beitrag dieses Blogs.

!!! Der Stammbaum zeigt nicht alle Nachkommen an. Insbesondere musste ich aus Platzgründen leider nach den Kindern weiblicher Namensträger einen Strich machen. Ich habe das hier im Blog — auf Englisch — erklärt. Wer Fragen dazu hat, kann mich gerne kontaktieren.

Die Stammbäume können auf gestrichenem Papier in 3 Stärken bestellt werden:

  • einfaches Papier (vergleichbar mit Kopierpapier guter Qualität)
  • schweres Papier (wird empfohlen)
  • extraschweres Papier (fast wie Fotokarton)

Die Qualität des Papiers und der Tinte sollte dafür sorgen, dass die Stammbäume viele Jahre und Jahrzehnte in guter Kondition erhalten bleiben.

Wenn ich 10 oder mehr Bestellungen erhalte, kostet ein Satz mit allen drei Stammbäumen je nach Papierstärke:

  • einfach: 98,06 EUR
  • schwer: 132,38 EUR
  • extraschwer: 171,61 EUR

Versandkosten kommen noch hinzu.

Da ich schon jetzt 8 Bestellungen habe, gehe ich davon aus, dass das die gültigen Preise sein werden.

Schließlich schlage ich vor, dass meine Arbeit an diesen Stammbäumen durch einen auf extraschwerem Papier ausgedruckten Satz Stammbäume abgegolten wird, den ich dann zu meinen Akten lege. Die Kosten dafür sollen anteilig den anderen bestellten Sätzen hinzuaddiert werden: Je mehr Dreiersätze bestellt werden, desto weniger der Einzelanteil.

Dieser Satz Stammbäume bietet einen guten Überblick über die Geschichte deiner Familie. Damit wird der Verwandtschaftsgrad mit anderen heutigen Wynekens ersichtlich, und du kannst deine Vorfahren durch die Jahrhunderte verfolgen.

Teile mir bis zum 15. Februar bitte per Email verbindlich mit – mawyn@gmx.de – wenn du einen Satz Stammbäume bestellen möchtest.

Ich teile dann den endgültigen Preis mit, bevor die Bestellung an den Druckdienst geschickt wird, und gebe bescheid, wie der Betrag überwiesen werden soll.

In 140 Jahren wird der nächste Familienforscher vielleicht beschließen, eine neue Auflage des Stammbaums zu erstellen. Damit die Chancen gut sein werden, dass er oder sie auf die jetzige Version Zugriff bekommt, wäre es mir wichtig, dass diese Stammbäume in der Familie möglichst weit verbreitet unterkommen. Daher meine Bitte, diese Information an möglichst viele aus deiner Familie und Verwandtschaft weiterzuleiten.

Ordering the updated tree and prices

The last complete family tree of the Wyneken family was compiled around 1877 / 1878. Lots has changed since then in the various branches of the family in Germany, the US, Spain, Chile, England and Russia. I have finished the work on an updated version and I already have orders for eight copies. Now I am looking for other family members who are interested in purchasing a copy for themselves.

Because the family and its history has become so large, I have had to split it up into three charts:

  • beginnings and overview – ca. 32” x 12”
  • Bederkesa branch (Germany, Russia, US) – ca. 32” x 240”
  • Rüstje branch (US, England, Germany, Spain, Chile) – ca. 40” x 110”

Previews are available in a previous post in this blog.

!!! But please check this warning in my blog about not being able to include all descendants.

The trees can be ordered in three grades of coated paper:

  • value (equivalent to good quality copier paper)
  • standard heavyweight (recommended as default)
  • super heavyweight (approaches the feel of card stock)

The quality of paper and ink means that they should remain good for many years and decades.

The following prices hold if ten or more people order a set, and with eight orders already I’m thinking this will be what we’re looking at:

  • value quality paper: $111.75
  • standard heavyweight paper: $150.86
  • super heavyweight paper: $195.56

The cost of postage and handling will also need to be added.

I propose that I add a set of trees in super heavyweight quality to the total order I send to the printer. This set would be sent to myself as payment for the time and work necessary to design the charts and have them printed. The cost would be distributed evenly among all the other orders. That means the more people that order a set, the less each person pays for my payment set.

This set of trees reflects your family history and shows how you fit in, both with other Wynekens alive right now as well as throughout the centuries. On request I would be willing to create a small chart for anyone who needs to know how he or she fits in to the overall picture.

Please let me know by e-mail – mawyn@gmx.de – by February 15 if you would like to order a set of these trees.

Before I send the order to the printer I will send you the final price and let you know how to transfer the money to me.

Also please pass on this information to as many Wyneken relatives of yours that you can think of. I would like these trees to be distributed as far as possible throughout the family so that if and when somebody decides to make the next updated version of the tree in 140 years or so he or she can easily find a copy of what I am producing now.

Please be aware of this important information!

It is important to note that not all Wyneken descendants appear in the upcoming comprehensive tree. Because the trees turned out so large I had to make a cut-off point:

  • Everybody whose last name is Wyneken is in the tree.
  • Everyone whose mother’s maiden name is Wyneken appears in the tree.
  • If your grandmother’s maiden name was Wyneken but her children were not named Wyneken, then unfortunately you’re not in the tree.
  • If none of your grandparents bore the name “Wyneken”, then you’re not in the tree.

Since it is common in many cultures for women to change their last name when they marry, this means that effectively I have had to cut out descendants of female Wynekens.

If anybody has any questions about this, please get in touch with me!

Last tree complete

I have completed the third and final tree of the new set of trees that show all the Wynekens that have ever existed, at least as far as I’m aware of. A full-sized version of the above tree is available here.

As I’ve mentioned before, the idea is to provide a complete update to the Wyneken family tree published and distributed in about 1877. The tree I’ve just finished shows how everything started by listing the earliest known Wynekens as well as the families of the wives of two of them. The time frame for the earliest generations and their wives’ families is about 200 years, ranging from the early 1500’s through the end of the 1600’s / very beginning of the 1700’s.

I have also included in this chart an overview of how the family developed further by sketching in the two major branches of the Wyneken family, the Bederkesa branch and the Rüstje branch, in two different colors. These are the two branches covered in detail in the other two trees.

At the bottom of this final chart you find the founding fathers of all the branches of the Wyneken family that are in existence today. This chart only shows the direct lines from the beginnings to the founders; complete listings can be found in the other two trees. You can see miniature versions of the other two trees at the bottom of this page.

I believe I’m very close to completing this whole project, but I can imagine it will still be a few months before the printed trees have reached their final owners. Up to now progress in this project has depended solely on myself and on how I can schedule my time. The next steps depend also on other people:

  • Find alternative possibilities for printing the trees.
  • Negotiate special rates with the printer because of the size of the final products and, hopefully, because there will be a large number of orders.
  • Reach as many Wyneken relatives as possible who might be interested in obtaining copies of the trees.
  • Gather the orders and collect the payments.
  • Place the print order.
  • Organize distribution to various people and presumably to different countries.

I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who thinks they can help in any way with any of these steps.

The big trees – Rüstje branch on the left, Bederkesa Branch on the right:

Rüstje Bederkesa

Tree project: Progress report

I finished the second tree! I’ve added pictures and explanatory text to the chart depicting Rüstjethe Rüstje branch of the family.

I’m planning on creating one more tree, the smallest of them all. It will show the beginnings of the family in the 1500’s and provide an overview of how the other two trees fit into the overall picture.

First tree is done

Tree sampleThis past week I put the final touches on the first tree. I mentioned it in my last blog post here. It covers the so-called Bederkesa branch of the family, which includes the two American branches, the Russian branch, and three branches of the family in Germany.

The picture at the left gives an impression of what it looks like. The final product will be about six yards/meters long, however.

I will try to complete the other two charts I have planned during the next months.


Progress report on the new tree project

I would like to announce that I have made some progress in creating a new comprehensive family tree. As I warned back in January, this is not going to be a quick project.

My initial tries showed me that I would not be able to fit a whole tree in a single chart so I decided to make three charts: one covering the earliest generations, one covering the Bederkesa branch (primarily Germany, USA, and Russia) and another covering the Rüstje branch (primarily Germany, Chile, England, Spain).

This week I have made use of vacation time to prepare the first tree. I decided to start with the Bederkesa branch because it is the largest of the three. Instead of making it a top-down horizontal tree like the previous Wyneken tree from the late 1800’s, the new tree is vertical, starting with Peter Christoph Wyneken (1644-1683/1684) on the far left and proceeding to the youngest members of the family on the right side of the chart.

Bederkesa treeThe chart when printed will be about 80 cm by 580 cm, roughly 32 inches by 229 inches. That’s a large piece of paper! There’s a miniature version of the chart on the right side of this page. In real life the chart is four letter size pages wide and 22 of that size long.

To print the charts I’m currently planning on using the services of Heartland Family Graphics (http://www.familygraphics.com), the print shop endorsed by the Reunion genealogy software I use. I’m not restricted to using them but right now I see no reason to look elsewhere. The price of the charts will depend on the weight of the paper used. The company is sending me samples to aid me in making a decision.

It looks like this first chart would cost around $130, or $160 for heavier paper. There will also be additional costs for shipping and handling. I’m hoping to be able to get some kind of volume rebate if I can tell the print shop that I will be ordering copies for several parties. I’m thinking that the price ought to go down if there are lots of people who want copies. I’m hoping to be able to interest numerous people in obtaining their own copies, not only in the US but also in Germany, Chile and Spain.

Of course, it would make most sense if people order copies of all three trees so they have the information about the whole family. My rough estimate is that the tree for the Rüstje branch should be only about half the size, and thus cost, of this first tree. The third tree showing the earliest generations should only be about maybe $10.

The top of this blog page shows an excerpt from the tree. At the very bottom of the page is another excerpt from the tree.

Please note that I will never post online any information about living persons in a format that can be read or that is in text form. The tree on the right, for example, potentially contains all the names in the tree but it’s neither in text form nor in a legible size.

Excerpt with pictures

Royal seal of Queen Christina of Sweden

A number of months ago Wyneken descendant Ben Phelps shared with me several scanned documents pertaining to the Wyneken family that he had acquired from various sources in the course of his research. Among them were such things as death records and last wills.

One of these documents I find especially post-worthy for two reasons. First, it documents the appointment of Christoph Wyneken, one of the oldest know Wyneken forebears, to the office of “Rentmeister”, translatable as “government treasurer”, in the Duchy of Bremen and Verden. Second, the appointment is signed and sealed by Queen Christina of Sweden. (At the end of the 30 Years War, that northern part of Germany was under Swedish rule.)

The picture at the top of this page shows part of the title page of the document, and the picture at the bottom includes the date — 6th of February, 1649, Christina’s signature, and her seal, covered presumably for protection.

This document is located in the Stade archives: “Acta betreffend Bestallung des Landrentmeisters Christoph Wieneken für die Herzogthümer Bremen und Verden,” Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv Stade, Rep. 5a Nr. 1931, 1649 and 1651.

Queen Christina: signature and seal

Birth record for FCD Wyneken’s mother

Continuing my processing of the material I recently received from Benjamin Phelps, today I worked on the birth and baptism record for Anna Catharina Louise Meyer, who was later to become the mother of Carl, Gustav and FCD Wyneken. The entry reads:

des H Cornetts Hinrich Christian Meyer und seiner Ehefrau Maria Elisabeth geb. Sa[xxx]ow Töchterl:
Anna Catharina Louise
Anna Catharine Meyern zu Barnstorff,
Frau Pastorin Anna Catharina Schwarze zu Verden

This translates as:

Daughter of Herr Kornett Heinrich Christian Meyer and his wife Maria Elisabeth nee Sa[xxx]ow:
Anna Catharina Louise
Anna Catharine Meyer from Barnstorf
Mrs. Pastor Anna Catharina Schwarze from Verden

Heinrich Christian served in the cavalry and this seems to be early on in his military career because “Kornett” is the lowest ranking officer in the cavalry.

This entry is highly interesting to me for two reasons.

First, the year given is definitely 1772. My previous information was that she was born in 1773. It seems that the complete tree from the end of the 19th century listed 1772 and others just copied from that. Maybe it was just a reading erro? I’ve corrected that in my database.

Unfortunately the numbers in the dates are smudged a bit so it’s hard to say exactly which date in December she was born and baptised.

Second, the mother’s maiden name is given! The horrible news is that there’s a smudge in the middle of the name so I can’t figure out exactly what it was. AAAAAARGH!!!

A letter from my great great great grandmother

The other day I was starting to work through a large batch of new material that Benjamin Phelps had very kindly shared with me. One of the first things I looked at was a letter from 1885 in old German script. I gave an inner sigh because transcribing the old script is always very time consuming for me. But when I noticed who the letter was from I started to be more interested. The letter is signed S. Wyneken, i.e. Sophie Wyneken, FCD Wyneken’s widow.

Hm, the letter is dated January 1885. Hm, she was writing from Los Angeles!! Hm, she was writing her daughter-in-law, Conradine, her son Henry’s wife!!! So, what was she doing in Los Angeles? Wow, she was visiting the family of Henry’s twin brother, Martin, who had just died the previous October!!!!

As Martin is my great great grandfather I began to realise that I might really be interested in the contents of this letter.

When Martin died on October 19, 1884 he left behind his wife, Clara (34), and four children: Concordia (11), Clara (9), Martin (6) and Arthur (3). (I just noticed that Concordia’s birthday was October 18, so her father died the day after she turned 11. What a dreadful way to “celebrate” a birthday!)

Sophie describes how she spent Christmas with her newly widowed daughter-in-law and her four grandchildren. She described how they had a tree and shared presents. Her two granddaughters had made her a table cloth with embroidery on each of the corners. The girls also made some sort of handicraft presents for their brothers.

She writes, however, that her heart was heavy every time she realized that her son, Martin, was not there with them. She says that her grandchildren had asked their mother not to cry when they celebrated Christmas.

Transcribing the letter was somewhat tedious. When I finally figured out the last word in one of the sentences, I gasped inside. Sophie wrote that her six year old grandson, Martin (my grandfather’s father), was telling everyone that he was going to earn money when he grows up in order to buy a gravestone for his father. Sophie wrote further that he was already saving his pennies for that purpose. I can just picture a little boy saying this.

Later in the letter she invites Conradine to accompany her husband, Henry, when he comes out to visit in the summer. She even suggests that they buy property there so they can move to California when Henry retires from teaching.

She also refers to “Papa Crämer”, an old man who was now alone, too. August Crämer was the father-in-law of Martin and Henry’s sister, Sophie. A quick look in my database showed that August’s wife had also just recently died, in November. That’s a lot of deaths in the family.

I’m very grateful to Benjamin for passing on this letter to me. It provides an unexpected little peek into the daily life of my ancestors during a dark period of their life. It helps bring the sorrow of their situation back to life.

Here’s a rough transcription of the original German text:

Los Angeles d 2ten Januar [1885]en

Meine innig geliebte Tochter,

Also jetzt kömt dein Geburtstag.

Nun Gott Lob und Dank, das Er dich bisher deinen Mann und Kinder erhalten hat: Er sei auch ferner in diesem Jahr dein Schutz und Schirm. Er gebe dir ein getrostes Herz und fröhlichen Mut, zu kämpfen durch dies elende leben, bis es Gott gefällt uns Heim zu holen. In das liebe Vaterhaus, wo aller Jammer ein Ende hat, und wir alle unsere lieben wieder finden, das gebe Gott, das dir(?) keines fehlet.

Wie habt ihr das liebe Weihnachtsfest gefeiert? Hat das Christkindchen auch einen


schönen Baum gebracht? Wir hatten einen kleineren Baum für die Kinder zurecht gemacht. Herman und Kand. Scheuder(?) konnte leider erst spät abkommen(?) wie der Baum schon brante. Auch sind wir alle reichlich bedacht besonders ich. Die Mädchen haben sich sehr angestrengt. Ich wollte ihr köntet die Arbeit mal sehen die sie mir gemacht haben, eine schöne Tischdekke an jeder Ecke eine schöne Stikerei zu schön um zu gebrauchen. Von H und ?? silbere Teelöffel von Clara einen schöne Nähkrole(?) und Handstück, von Hr. Kern ein Eimer Butter von Fort Wayne. Auch für die Jungens haben die Mädchen eine schöne Handarbeit gemacht u Conni und Clara für ihre Mutter, mit Hülfe xxx xxx so wären wir auch vergnügt gewesen


aber der Gedanke das nun auch Martin fehlte, machte doch das Herz schwer.

Die Kinder hatten ihre Mama schon lange vorher gebeten, sie solle aber nicht weinen und sie immer an. Martin sagt immer wenn er groß ist will er Geld verdienen und Papa einen Stein kaufen, er spart auch jeden Cent. Clara spricht davon Conni mit ihren Vater zu schicken, die Eltern möchten gerne eins von den Mädchen.

Wir freuen uns schon darauf wenn dein Henry u. P. Leitz kömt [sic] nächsten Sommer. Könntest du es gar nicht möglich machen das du mit kämest? Du könntest dir hier dan Land kaufen und anlegen lassen und wenn dein Henry dan nicht mehr unterrichten kann, so komt ihr auch hier, ich du möchtest das xxx

[… something missing? – Maybe something like, “ich denke du möchtest das überlegen”]


Was macht den der alte Papa Crämer? Er dauert(?) mich sehr der alte Mann so allein, ich denke mir es muß für einen Mann noch viel einsamer sein als für eine Frau. Nur das er sich nicht so für sein äußerliches Auskommen zu sorgen braucht. Er wird mir doch oft sehr schwer so hart zu arbeiten in meinen alten Tagen

[Die?] 100 [Dollar?] von Cleveland kamen mir sehr gelegen, da als die xxx bezahlt werden musste.

Nun meine liebe Connie ich will nicht klagen, laß dir den xxx gut schmecken. Gott sei mit dir und deinem Mann und Kinder. Grüß alle zu xxx liebe deine Mutter

S. Wyneken

[P.S. – at the top of the third page] Die Bücher für Clara und mich sind nicht angekommen.

The last member of the Russian Wyneken family

I was searching the Internet for various Wyneken information when I ran across a page about Baroness Marka Wyneken. The name was very familiar but at first I couldn’t place it. Then I had a suspicion, and the suspicion was confirmed when I looked the name up in my database. Marka was the daughter of Baron Nikolaus Wyneken, who appears in my online database at the bottom of the page for his father Alexander, full name Johann Peter Alexander von Wyneken.

I had first heard of Marka in around 2004. I tried to locate her but was only able to find and correspond with her divorced husband, Prof. Raniero Gnoli, in 2005. He was no longer in touch with her but believed that she was living in Innsbruck, Austria. As it turns out, he was right about that but I never followed the lead any farther after my correspondence with him.

Now it’s too late because what I found on the Internet was her obituary. She died on July 27, 2014 in Innsbruck. According to the obituary she had been living in Innsbruck since 1991 as a secular canoness, German “Stiftsdame”.

My database contains numerous female Wynekens who were secular canonesses. That seems to have been a good option for unmarried aristocratic women who did not possess much wealth.

So how did Marka wind up in Austria?

Marka’s grandfather, Alexander, and his father, George, belonged to the Russian branch of the family that was founded when George moved there from Germany, possibly in 1860. Alexander on the other hand had a career as an officer in the Russian military. In the course of the Russian Revolution Alexander is said to have committed suicide to escape being captured by the Bolsheviks. His wife fled with the three children, including Marka’s father, Nikolaus, to Austria since the Russian Wynekens were also Austrian nobility. I’ve heard reports of Wynekens residing in Vienna at one point in time.

Nikolaus married Princess Isabella Josephine Maria Schönburg from the Schönburg-Hartenstein family. Isabella is listed on this web page (you have to search for her name) as marrying Baron Nikolaus von Wyneken in 1931 and divorcing him in 1933.

Prof. Gnoli, on the other hand, informed me that Marka’s father died a few months after the wedding. I unfortunately have no further information concerning the date of Nikolaus’ death so I don’t know which version is true.

Isabella von Schönburg remarried in 1937, a man named Georges Zafiorpulo, who according to the Internet was a sculptor.

I have no idea whether Marka grew up with her mother or her father. It’s possible that if I had been able to get in touch with her she would not even have been able to tell me anything about the Russian Wynekens if she had grown up with her mother. However I would have been overjoyed if I had indeed been able to get in touch with her before she died. It would have been a special experience to communicate with the last member of the Russian branch of the Wyneken. But it was not to be.

As a side note, I would like to mention that Georg Wyneken, the brother of Marka’s grandfather Alexander, was a bank director in Brussels. I have a report from Hans-Rolf Wyneken (now deceased) that he met Georg during World War II in Brussels when Hans-Rolf was stationed on the west front as a medic. Georg says that he found Georg living an impoverished life in a single room. There was a sign, though, that said “Baron von Wyneken”.

It seems that fate did not necessarily treat the last members of the Russian Wyneken branch well.

The source of the picture at the top of this page is:


Another Wyneken Lunch, Resulting in Very Exciting News

As mentioned last month, Katja and Ulla and I are keeping our eyes open for other Wyneken relatives in the general area that we can invite to our semi-regular lunch get-togethers. For January I was able to reach Christoph Wyneken, who lives in Staufen, a village just south of Freiburg. The three of us got together last Friday for lunch at the little Afghan restaurant that I like to go to for lunch when I’m at work. Since we didn’t take a picture of ourselves I’m just using a photograph of what I had as the picture for the top of this page.

I have met with Christoph a few times in the past, once many, many years ago even together with Ruth Wyneken, who belongs to a completely different branch of the family from Christoph’s branch and from my own. I haven’t seen him in well over 18 years, though, despite the fact that we live so close to each other.

We spent an hour and a half eating and getting to know each other. Well into the discussion Christoph mentioned his grandchildren, of whom he is very proud. Back in 2006 I found out somehow that their second daughter had given birth to their first grandson, but I had no idea that the number was now four. And they’re all boys!!! That is additional hope that the name is not going to go extinct in the near future.

But wait, you say! If their mother is Christoph’s daughter, doesn’t that mean their last name is not Wyneken? Fortunately for the Wyneken clan the father of the four boys thought it was important for them to carry on his wife’s last name. Thus his wife retained her maiden name, which is not at all uncommon in Germany any more, and the children bear her name.

All I can say is, “hooray!”

I wonder if we can get other “guest Wynekens” to join us for lunch in the future?